I’m on a plane to Chicago, for the third festival screening of CMO, but I want to take everyone back a few months.
We had been holding bi-weekly screening of the film at my house. Usually just me, my wife Kristine, Sarah Hajtol (who has more credits on this film than I do, but in this case was certainly acting as my assistant editor), and production manager/researcher Katie Dickey in attendance. And of course my dogs, Phoebe and Springsteen. (Springsteen finally stopped asking why there was no music in the film, which I thought was a good sign.) Jan Radder, my supervising producer would also watch, but from a DVD at his home in Minneapolis. The last of these was on Monday, January 31, 2011. It would be the last chance to have a number of eyes on the film before locking it down, and doing the sound mix.
Notes were blessedly few and far between. A missing period at the end of one title, a B-camera close-up a little out of focus, a missing name in the end titles, a photo that needed to move from right to left, instead of visa-versa, things like that. I would then spend the next week tweaking. We received a handful of last minute graphics/images, which Sarah would insert into the film, while I double checked everything, and added only two things.
Two things no one knew about.
The first: the pause. (Infamous in my small circle of participants on this film.) Bil MacLeslie was the band’s soundman for a few tours. He was the person who confiscated the tape which would go on to become When The Shit Hits The Fans. His stories are eloquent and plentiful in the film. But one on my favorite things he says is nothing at all.
I asked everyone we interviewed what their favorite Mats song was. Most people listed off many, or gave an answer, then quickly changed their mind. Bill was different. He gave his one word answer, then paused. It was as if it were the thing in his life of which he was most sure.
When doing the first cut of the film, I left that pause in, in all its six second glory. I loved it. It was a breath, a break, it was certainty and passion, it was exactly what the film needed at that point. But everyone on my crew hated it. That it stopped the flow. That it was almost uncomfortable. So I chopped away at it, until it barely existed, mainly because I was tired of hearing about it after screening every cut.
Well, when Sarah was through with the graphics, and when I knew the next person who’d me seeing the film was my mixer, Matt Gundy, at DuArt, I popped that pause back in, as I knew I would, as I had planned to, all along. And watching it with festival audiences, counting off the second in my head, I know it belongs in the film. I love that damn pause.
The second: a dedication. It comes right at the end of the end credits, as Matthew Ryan speaks. It’s heartfelt, and deserved, as I would have never made this film without her. You can read it when you see the film. I mean every word.
P.S. These past few posts, and the next few that follow were all written on that plane ride. Needed a break from new script.